For many years now, users have been attempting to shield themselves from a barrage of unsolicited and irrelevant autoplay ads cropping up in the middle of their browsing time. Consumer frustration with these unwanted ads has gotten so bad that leading browsers like Google Chrome and Apple’s Safari have taken steps to block videos that play automatically with sound on.
Apple is updating its Safari browser to block videos that play automatically with sound on and Google’s Chrome is expected to follow suit early next year when it starts filtering out ad formats that turn off users. Autoplay has played a key role in the increase in ad blocking, which is now employed by 18% of internet users in the U.S. and 11% globally (According to PageFair’s 2017 Adblock report).
The report found that interruptive ads were the second most common motivation for blocking ads at 29%, just behind virus and malware concerns at 30%.
In contrast, users have a much higher tolerance for non-interruptive ad formats that don’t compromise their user experience. Interruptive and unskippable video ads are the biggest annoyances for users online.
Although the removal of autoplay ads will undoutedbly be great news for thousands of consumers, it’s raised a number of challenges for marketers. Questions have been raised over how to reach customers without autoplay ads, and the challenge of creating videos that people actually want to intiate and watch.
The most promising alternative has come in the form of muted video ads, which prove to be considerably more popular with users. Research indicates that 45% of consumers naming muted video ads as the most tolerable form of video advertisements (more than any other type of advert!). The implication is that such ads don’t impede the user experience.
Autoplay’s Out, Muted Videos Are In
Autoplay has an infamous reputation with consumers. Research conducted by Brandwatch indicates that since January 2017 autoplay has been mentioned more than 25,000 times on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. As more and more consumers complain about autoplay ads, more companies are considering blocking their use. Ever since Facebook first tested muted auto play videos in 2013, no one could have anticipated the seismic changes in how audiences watch videos on the internet.
Fast forward to today, and the marketing industry is finally catching up to produce advertising that consumers want to see: muted video ads.
In fact, Digiday reports that 85% of Facebook video is now watched without sound.
The growth in muted mobile video consumption has forced a widespread reimagination of traditional digital marketing strategies in favour of a softwer, non-intrusive approach. Gone are the days of bombarding consumers with instrusive sales pitches. Now marketers need to be much more measured in order to engage potential customers.
In this market, adverts need to been provoking both in their presentation and their content. Adverts with a visual emphasis are the best place to start in this endeavour. Brands from Budlight to the Bank of America have begun embracing visual advertising as a way to reach content immersed consumers.
In order to maximize effectiveness, marketers need to create short and entertainign videos rather than drawn-out pieces with elaborate plots. Likewise, captions and metrics that verify active attention can pay dividends in terms of engagement. In fact, research conducted by Facebook shows that captioned video ads increase video view time by around 12%.
One exemplar case study of muted ads is seen in Pandora’s marketing strategy. Milward Brown’s analysis of the company suggests that average time spent with responsive mobile display ads has increased by 50%, with an increase in metrics from favorability to brand awareness. Muted video ads have also helped to increase user watchtime, and muted video ads with music in the background boosted completion rates by up to 30%.
Thirst for Ads that Enhance the User Experience
If anything has changed in the last few years of video advertising, it’s that ads that enhance the user experience stand out from the masses of ads that intrude on everyday browsing. Consumers are receptive to product and service pitches so long as they can engage on their own terms. With muted video ads, users can choose to hear more about a service if the visual presentation catches their eye.
By enabling users to select what ad content they wish to engage with, brands will not only help to build a conscientious brand, but will also drive conversions as well. At this point in the digital marketing revolution, the market may be saturated with ads but marketers that seek to improve the UI will situate themselves as king of the hill.